“Absorbing reading.” —Kirkus Reviews on Burma Rifles: A Story of Merrill’s Marauders
“Sergeant Forson’s Dirty-Shirt Army” is set in eastern Oregon, at a forgotten outpost left behind by the regular Army during the War between the States. Fort Haney is now home to a troop of fifty-seven men, raw recruits in the Oregon Volunteer Cavalry, who care little about fighting except among themselves, in spite of the fact that they are surrounded by hostile Snake and Cayuse Indians, just waiting for opportune moments to strike at farmers, ranchers, and stagecoaches. Their commanding officer plots strategy by retiring to his quarters, building model ships, and drinking whiskey. What alone can make a difference perhaps is Sergeant Ward Forson, previously trained in the regular Army. When word comes that the daughter of the commanding officer is on her way by stagecoach, coming to Fort Haney, both Major King and Sergeant Forson know that an Indian attack is likely. It is up to Forson to insure that these undisciplined recruits, who have been living almost like animals, will now pull together and meet their adversaries like true soldiers.
“Furnace Flat” is set in Death Valley. For twelve years now, Grady Ryan has worked in Borax mines, always with the idea to get a stake and strike off on his own to find a rich lode. He has done this several times in the past, but this time he has reason to expect to find a true bonanza. He is partnered with the elderly Mysterious Smith. Ryan is certain that Smith knows the location of a fabulous lode. And Ryan is right. But Smith knows they will be followed into the desert by ruthless claim-jumpers. His reason for wanting Ryan along is to fight off the claim-jumpers, not to share in a fortune with him. Maggie Conway, who operates a successful hash house in Furnace Flat, from which Grady and Smith are set to depart, is highly intuitive, and she tells Ryan that she is as sure as she has ever been that this time he will make his strike and find success at last. Intuitive she may be, but no fortune-teller.
A double dose of Western action from one of the genre’s acknowledged masters
The first story, “The Rodeo Killer,” is a smoldering tale of the violent intersecting conflict between New Mexico cattle ranchers, cattle buyers, and men breeding horses for the rodeo circuit. Greed, deceit, trickery, and murder mix with romance and gripping examples of human and animal courage in this thrilling and dramatic tale.
The title story, “Mission Creek,” references a waterway in the Red River region of Texas that serves as the background for the fiery tale of Ruel Starrett, a man that worked against the odds his whole life to establish his own ranch. He finally gets his chance when he’s offered a half interest in the Spade Ranch from a woman named Susanna Dahlhart. But she isn’t all she appears. By the time Starrett learns what he’s gotten into, it may be too late to get himself out without a fight.
- Trouble at Temescal
By Frank Bonham
Edited and with a foreword by Bill Pronzini
Read by Armando Durán
Release Date: 2018-11-01
A pair of action-packed tall tales from Western master Frank Bonham
The first story, Trouble in Temescal, is set in Los Angeles in the days following the Mexican-American War, and tells the tale of two entrepreneurial mustangers, Hank Ashwood and Red Wolfe, who have driven a herd of horses from New Mexico to California for resale. But their efforts to sell the animals to one of the Mexican hacendados, Dona Julia de la Torre, owner of Rancho Temescal, are hampered by a scabrous group of squatters led by Owen Pike, bent on claiming rights to her land, and who have the racially biased ownership laws at their backs.
The second story, King of the Defiances, is the story of Big Jim Jackson, who intends to make a fortune by logging off the best railroad-tie timber in Arizona, and his clash with former manhunter Troy Cameron, the leader of a group of small cattle ranchers who stand in Jackson’s way. Jackson now holds notes on the ranchers’ land and plans to foreclose if the notes aren’t met on time. And he has a hired crew of gun hands ready to use force against anyone who resists.